Back in March we announced the third generation of UCS, with significant expansions to the I/O and systems management capabilities of the platform as well as a new lineup of servers. This month we’re continuing to expand the UCS server lineup with the addition of four new models. The latest batch of M3 systems are comprised of three Intel Xeon “EN” class machines (E5-2400 series processors) as well as a four socket “EP” (E5-2600 series) blade server. Specifically: the UCS B22 and B420 M3 blades and the C22 and C24 M3 rack servers. These new servers round out the UCS portfolio with an even stronger set of products optimized for scale-out and light general-purpose computing as well as a new price/performance 4S category in the mid-range.
If you prefer watching than reading , here is a nice conversation between Intel Boyd Davis , VP & GM, Data Center Infrastructure group, Cisco Jim McHugh, VP UCS Marketing, and Scott Ciccone, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, highlighting the key benefits of these new models.
To figure out how these fit in, let’s step back and consider the broader evolution of server technology in play here:
1) Cisco has made server I/O more powerful and much simpler.
One of the key differentiators of UCS is the way in which high-capacity server network access has been aggregated through Cisco Virtual Interface Cards and infused with built-in high performance virtual networking capabilities. In “pre-UCS” server system architectures, one of the main design considerations was the type and quantity of physical network adapters required. Networking, combined with computing sockets/cores/frequency/cache, system memory, and local disk are historically the primary resources considered in the balancing act of cost, physical space and power consumption, all of which are manifested in the various permutations of server designs required to cover the myriad of workloads most efficiently. Think of these as your four server subsystem food groups. Architecture purists will remind us that everything outside the processors and their cache falls into the category of “I/O” but let’s not get pedantic because that will mess up my food group analogy. In UCS, I/O is effectively taken off the table as a design worry because every server gets its full USRDA of networking through the VIC: helping portions of bandwidth, rich with Fabric Extender technology vitamins that yield hundreds of Ethernet and FC adapters through one physical device. Gone are the days of hemming and hawing over how many mezz card slots your blade has or how many cards you’re going to need to feed that hungry stack of VM’s on your rack server. This simplification changes things for the better because it takes a lot of complication out of the equation.
You meet the most interesting people at trade shows! This morning at Microsoft’s Tech Ed event here in Orlando the Cisco booth was humming with activity as the exhibit hall opened for the attendees. One early visitor to our booth turned out to have a very interesting – and quite fun – Cisco UCS story.
Jeff Stahl of Kindred Healthcare was the early visitor with the unique story. I started off my conversation with Jeff commenting on the complementary “Got Servers?” Cisco t-shirt he had just picked up. Jeff quickly mentioned he was a Cisco UCS customer and in fact was ‘our first’ customer as he has UCS serial # …0001 in his datacenter. What followed over the next few minutes was a fun conversation with Jeff and a few Cisco Engineers hearing about Kindred Healthcare’s UCS experience.
The Kindred Healthcare case study is available online here – and the benefits they accrued in moving to Cisco’s UCS server platform make a great read:
For instance, their comments on UCS and management are timely as our UCS Manager solution is up for a “Best of Show” award here at Tech Ed 2012 – “In addition to these savings, the Kindred team was also impressed by the centralized management that UCS offered, including service profiles that ensure consistent configurations. “We evaluated a number of different server solutions, but Cisco UCS really came out on top,” says King. “We didn’t consider the decision a mere hardware upgrade. Rather, UCS presented us the opportunity to truly transform the way we deliver services.”
Also great to hear and read up on was the savings in overall operating costs and improved licensing compliance for their Microsoft solutions such as SQL Server and SharePoint – “The elastic characteristics of the UCS-based infrastructure have allowed Kindred to temporarily extend its virtualization services … As a result, the company reduced its operational costs by more than $80,000 a month. Kindred also saw Microsoft licensing savings. “We are now able to leverage our existing investment in Microsoft infrastructure service licenses by landing their services on our shared infrastructure, giving us immediate concurrency and the ability to upgrade as desired.”
Today as a world-wide launch sponsor Cisco participated in Microsoft’s SQL Server 2012 U.S. Symposium Event “The New World of Data” here in Orlando. The event, held before the start of the big Tech Ed North America show focused, on the new SQL Server 2012 release and its capabilities for supporting data management and business intelligence scenarios.
Cisco has invested with our storage partners EMC and NetApp in key SQL Server solutions offered through our Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program. Based on Cisco UCS for the compute platform and Nexus for the network platform, the CVDs support various SQL Server scenarios such as OLTP, Data Warehouse, and SQL Server consolidations (this is provided through assessment programs available through the Cisco Field).
For those of you attending Tech Ed this week in Orlando, please feel free to drop our Cisco booth, #1613. We’ll have technology demonstrations on: Cisco UCS, UCS Manager, VDI, and Nexus 1000V. Also, register for a chance to win one of our daily prizes – a trip to live life in the fast lane…so to speak… at the Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World!
It’s time for EMC fans to gather from across the globe for this great event: EMC World in Las Vegas started today!
It’s also an opportunity to learn about Cisco’s cloud management solutions, designed to deliver end-to-end unified management and an intelligent approach to IT automation — complementing intelligent infrastructure such as UCS, Nexus, EMC storage, and the Vblock platform.
You may have heard that we recently introduced the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition. Here’s a brief overview and demo featured on TechWise TV: